Use Your Turn Signals!

If you’ve ever been in a car, you might have noticed this strange object sticking out from your steering wheel.

Use Your Turn Signals!

Perhaps it is time for a bit of empirical evidence. According to a study by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International,

  • Drivers neglect to use their turn signals approximately 750 billion times per year.
  • Drivers neglect to use their turn signal 25% of the time when making a turn.
  • Drivers neglect to use their turn signal 48% of the time while changing lanes.
  • Drivers neglect to turn off their turn signals 48% of the time after changing lanes.

When people don’t use their turn signals, they are contributing to an environment in which other drivers have less control. A turn signal isn’t just a signal, it’s a warning. The use of a turn signal allows other drivers to notice the change in their surroundings and react appropriately. And if they’re decent people, they’re likely to react in a way that benefits your own safety, perhaps by giving you adequate space to change lanes on a busy highway. 

Because of this behavior, the study concluded that the number of yearly car crashes in the U.S. that can be attributed to this issue is approximately two million, more than double the amount of crashes that are a result of distracted driving (950,000). This means that nearly 20% of all crashes in the U.S. occurred because one or more drivers failed to alert other drivers to an upcoming turn or lane change.

The BuzzFeed hammered reasons for signaling here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/turn-signals

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DISTRACTED DRIVING

Cellphone manipulations up 57 percent over prior survey.

Manipulating a cellphone was a contributing factor in more than 800 crash deaths on U.S. roads during 2017 amid a marked increase in the percentage of drivers observed interacting with cellphones, new IIHS research indicates. The estimated number of deaths, however, still represents a fraction of the overall crash death toll.

Virginia drivers observed in a 2018 IIHS roadside survey were 57 percent more likely to be manipulating a cellphone than drivers in a 2014 survey. The percentage of drivers observed manipulating a phone rose from 2.3 percent in 2014 to 3.4 percent in 2018.

At the same time, drivers were less likely to be seen simply holding a cellphone or talking on a hand-held phone than in the prior survey. The finding is consistent with research indicating that drivers are talking on hand-held phones less and fiddling with them more often than in recent years.

In 2018, 3.7 percent of drivers in Northern Virginia were observed talking on a hand-held cellphone, compared with 4.1 percent of drivers in 2014, while 2.8 percent of drivers in 2018 were seen holding a cellphone, compared with 4.9 percent in the prior survey.

The problem of distracted driving, especially cellphone use, continues to raise concerns. A 2018 national survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 64 percent of respondents consider distracted driving a much bigger problem today than it was three years ago.

Estimating crash risk

About 37,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, the most recent year of data available. Assuming the prevalence of phone manipulation nationwide rose as it did in Northern Virginia to 3.4 percent, and assuming, based on the latest research, that fatal crash risk is 66 percent higher when manipulating a phone, then more than 800 of the estimated crash deaths in 2017 could be attributed to phone manipulation.

This estimate is based on work by IIHS and other researchers describing how the estimated risk and prevalence of phone use can be combined to estimate the number of crash deaths that could be attributed to phone use in a given year (see Status Report special issue: phoning while driving, Feb. 27, 2010). The 66 percent increase in fatal crash risk associated with manipulating a cellphone relative to driving when other secondary behaviors were present is a finding of a 2018 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

“The latest data suggest that drivers are using their phones in riskier ways,” says David Kidd, who co-authored the study and is a senior research scientist with HLDI. “The observed shift in phone use is concerning because studies consistently link manipulating a cellphone while driving to increased crash risk.”

Cellphone use affects how drivers scan and process information from the roadway. Drivers generally take their eyes off the road to dial, send texts and browse the web on a hand-held phone — all activities that fall under the rubric of manipulating the phone. Drivers engaged in cellphone conversations tend to concentrate their gaze toward the center of the roadway, but their attention still may be diverted from driving and make it difficult for them to process what they are looking at.

Tracking trends in distraction

Procedures for the 2018 update followed those used in 2014 (see “Distracting behaviors are common at red lights, less so at roundabouts,” March 31, 2015). IIHS stationed observers at 12 locations across four Northern Virginia communities, on straight stretches of roads, at signalized intersections and at roundabouts in March 2018. Observers noted nearly 12,000 drivers in the 2018 survey and more than 14,000 drivers in 2014 during the morning, afternoon or early evening on weekdays. Researchers noted if drivers were engaging in one or more of 12 visible secondary behaviors while moving or stopped at red lights.

About 23 percent of drivers were engaged in one or more distracting activities:

  • Talking on hand-held cellphone
  • Manipulating hand-held cellphone (excludes looking at phone in mount)
  • Simply holding hand-held cellphone (i.e. not obviously manipulating or talking)
  • Wearing Bluetooth earpiece or headset with mic
  • Wearing headphones or ear buds
  • Manipulating in-vehicle system (touching radio, climate control, touchscreen display or other controls; excludes operating stalks or buttons on steering wheel)
  • Manipulating or holding mobile electronic device other than cellphone
  • Talking or singing
  • Eating or drinking
  • Smoking
  • Grooming
  • Other (reaching for object, reading print material, adjusting sun visor, putting on glasses, holding another object)

“When people talk about distracted driving, most often cellphones are the focus, but drivers are distracted by other secondary behaviors more often than cellphones,” Kidd points out. “Things as simple as drinking coffee or talking to your kids can take your attention away from the road.”

About 14 percent of drivers were engaged in nonphone-related secondary behaviors in 2014 and 2018, which exceeded the proportion of drivers seen using phones in both years. Relative to 2014, drivers were more likely to be observed manipulating an in-vehicle system, grooming themselves, or manipulating or holding an electronic device other than a phone after researchers adjusted for community, perceived driver gender and age, time of day and roadway situation.

Drivers in 2018 were less likely to be talking or singing while driving alone, smoking, or wearing headphones or earbuds. The prevalence of eating or drinking, talking or singing with a passenger present, wearing a Bluetooth device, or engaging in some other visible secondary behavior wasn’t significantly different between 2014 and 2018.

“We didn’t find evidence of an increase in distracted driving overall between the 2014 and 2018 roadside surveys,” Kidd says. “For cellphone-related distraction in general, we expect a continued shift in the way people interact with the devices as the technology evolves.”

The percentage of crash deaths related to distraction in recent years has hovered at about 8–10 percent of all crash deaths, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show. During the past three years, distraction-affected crash deaths have trended downward. The number of fatalities in distraction-affected crashes fell 9.3 percent from 3,490 in 2016 to 3,166 in 2017, representing 8.5 percent of total fatalities for the year. In 2015, 3,526 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes.

Fatality data likely underestimate the number of deaths caused by distracted drivers. Despite efforts to determine cellphone use by drivers in crashes, such data continue to be difficult to collect as they largely depend on people truthfully telling law enforcement officers what they were doing or voluntarily handing over their phones for inspection.

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Florida could outlaw all forms of distracted driving

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida could outlaw drivers from putting on makeup, holding a cellphone, reading or performing other distracting activities under a bill unanimously approved by a Senate committee.

The Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee approved the measure after heart-wrenching testimony from parents whose children that have been killed in accidents caused by districted drivers.

Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson said distracted driving has become an epidemic in Florida, and not just involving cars hitting other cars.

“Bike riding, hiking, jogging – all of those things – we’ve had record numbers of deaths in this state by distracted driving,” Simpson said.

Right now, it is illegal to text and drive in Florida, but drivers can only be ticketed if they are first pulled over for another reason. Simpson’s bill would make distracted driving a primary offense, meaning law enforcement wouldn’t need another reason to ticket a driver. If enacted, Florida would ease into the law by creating a three-month period where law enforcement would only give warnings. After Dec. 1, police would be able to issue tickets.

Hands-free cellphone use would be allowed, and drivers would be able to check their phones as long as their cars aren’t moving, such as at a stop light or while idling in a parking lot.

Law enforcement officers would also have to record the race and ethnicity of ticketed drivers and an annual report would have to be given to the governor, House speaker and Senate president. Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy asked for that provision to be included due to concerns that a distracted driving ban could be used for racial profiling.

Several parents who lost children in accidents urged the committee to approve the bill. Debbie Wanninkhof said her 25-year-old son, Patrick, died in an accident caused by a driver using a cellphone.

“We need to wake up to the danger of wireless communication device addicts,” she said. “Cellphone use … is an addiction for many. You hear the stimulus of a ping and you immediately grab the phone and you respond instantly. It happens over and over again, and just like a drug addiction, it can be deadly.”

The Senate bill has been unanimously approved in its first two of four committee stops. A similar House bill hasn’t been heard in committee yet, but House sponsor Rep. Jackie Toledo said House Speaker Jose Oliva has promised it will get a hearing.

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More Kids Hit at Bus Stops, 6 Accidents in 3 Days

The number of accidents at school bus stops is on the rise as drivers continue to ignore safety rules.

More children have been hit by cars while waiting for a school bus, this time in Florida and Pennsylvania. That makes six accidents at school bus stops in three days across the country.

According to station WTSP, five children and two adults were all hit by a car while waiting at a school bus stop in Tampa. Three of the children were 6 years old, one was 9 and the other was 12. The adults were both in their early 30s. All the people hit by the car were hospitalized AND two children remained in the hospital, according to WTSP. Investigators say the 47-year-old Tampa man driving the car that hit the group did not seem impaired at the time of the incident.

Also, a 7-year-old child was found on the ground with fatal injuries by a school bus driver at a bus stop in Pennsylvania. Tyrone Area School District Superintendent Cathy Harlow said on Facebook that the apparent hit-and-run happened before school. She also said, “the bus driver on route arrived at the stop discovering the situation, contacted 911 and remained at the scene until first-responders arrived.” State police are still looking for the driver, according to NBC 10.

An 11-year-old and a 13-year-old were hit in Louisville, Kentucky around 6:30 a.m. The two young brothers were hit by an unknown driver while crossing a busy intersection. Kentucky police are still looking for the driver.

Two other incidents happened in Florida and Mississippi. Twin boys and their big sister were hit by a car while boarding a school bus in Indiana. A fourth child was struck as well. Xzavier and Mason Ingle, both 6, and Alivia Stahl, 9, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash in Fulton County. The fourth child, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, was airlifted to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne with life-threatening injuries.

Sgt. Tony Slocum of the Indiana State Police said that the Tippecanoe Valley School corporation students were hit by a pick-up truck even though the bus was stopped with its lights flashing and its “STOP” arm extended. The pickup truck’s driver, 24-year-old Alyssa Shepherd, was arrested at her job just after 4 p.m., Indiana State Police said in a news release. Shepherd remained at the scene after the crash and cooperated with investigators. Her blood test did not indicate that alcohol or drugs played a factor, according to Gannett. Shepherd was charged with multiple felony counts of reckless homicide and one misdemeanor count of passing a school bus when an arm signal device is extended, causing bodily injury, court records show.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were about 1,300 people killed in school transportation-related accidents between 2006 and 2015. About 100 of those victims were classified as school-age pedestrians. 64 percent of the children killed were stuck by a bus or a vehicle serving as a bus, while 36 percent were hit by other vehicles, the administration said.

What if these were your children or family members? It’s up to each one of us to ensure our children make it to school and back safely. Remove distractions from your driving and pay attention to what’s happening all around you. These kids are victims because drivers are putting on makeup, holding a cellphone, reading or performing other distracting activities. None of these reasons is worth a life.

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Defensive Driving Tips

These simple precautions can help ensure you enjoy the ride — as well as the destination.

Want to make the roads safer, while protecting you, your loved ones and your car? Take the first step by honing your defensive driving skills. These tips can help you become more fully engaged in your journeys and stay safe behind the wheel.

Keep Looking Ahead

Be sure to look as far ahead as you are able. All too frequently when people are behind the wheel, they are only concerned the direct area in front of them. While the first few feet in front of your car is its own type of danger zone, especially if there is a hazard of any kind on the road, looking ahead and around is also important. This will allow you ample response time for anything that is coming your way.

Check Your Mirrors

Scan the horizon and continuously check your mirrors. Your eyes should always be moving and taking in as much information as possible. For example, if you notice that the car in front of you is slowing down, start braking. If you are fixated only on the car in front of you, you might not notice another car coming into your lane, which could result in an accident.

Stay Alert and Take Breaks if Needed

Take your required breaks and avoid drowsy driving. Drowsiness can lead to dangerous driving behavior like drifting out of your lane, not braking when needed, and crashing.

Avoid Distractions

Keeping your eyes up means keeping them off devices and distractions in the vehicle. Driver distraction doubled the risk of having a vehicle collision according to research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). They identified some of the riskiest distractions as using a cell phone, reading and writing, reaching, using a touchscreen, as well as being fatigued, emotional, and interacting with another passenger in the vehicle.

Another VTTI study of commercial vehicle operations showed that texting and driving “raises a heavy-truck driver’s risk of a safety-critical event by 23 times.”

Locking away the phone and keeping objects out of the front seat to avoid temptation are just two ways to minimize distraction and increase overall safety.

Be Prepared for Anything

Being prepared means taking note of the weather or road conditions and then driving to the conditions. Driving at the posted speed limit may be fine in sunny weather, but if it’s snowing or raining hard, that same speed will be too fast. Preparedness also means watching the traffic and being ready to adjust your driving. Don’t forget to check the areas along the road and up onto the sidewalks, in case a pedestrian or animal might cross your path.

Just like having a emergency plan at home, you should always have a plan for emergencies while driving. Having an idea of how you will react in possible situations and preparing for them in advance, will help you to avoid potentially life threatening situations. Having an escape plan can be as simple as making sure that you always have space around your vehicle in case you need to swerve to avoid some type of hazard. The more prepared you are before the emergency, the more likely it will be that you will avoid it.

Leave Space and Keep Your Distance

Although there are some things about driving you can’t control, you can control the distance between you and the next car in front of you. This is unique because you do not have this ability with any other side of your vehicle. Because this is the only distance that you can control, you should be aware of how closely you are following the vehicle in front of you. Also, beware of driving in a pack.

It’s a fact that trucks need a lot more time and space to stop. A passenger vehicle weighing 4,000 lbs and driving 65 mph takes 316 ft to stop. A tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 lbs, driving at 65 mph, will take 525 ft to stop — that’s equivalent to the length of two football fields!

To ensure that you maintain the best following distance, you will want to take certain factors into account:

  • the type of vehicle in front of you,
  • your speed,
  • and the weather conditions.

For example, a small motorcycle will be able to stop much faster than a larger vehicle, so you want to be sure to leave more distance. How fast are you traveling? If you are traveling at 100 mph, it will take much more time and distance to stop than if you were traveling at 25 mph. If the roads are wet from rain or icy from a recent snow, you will need to keep more space between your truck and other the vehicle. You always want to be sure that there is enough room in front of you to stop, regardless of the conditions, to avoid a collision.

Whether you’re exploring the countryside with your best pal or merely driving your kids to school, your car can be a gateway to lots of memorable moments. These simple precautions can help ensure you enjoy the ride — as well as the destination.

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Teaching Your Teens to Drive

Create a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement that puts your rules in writing
to clearly set expectations and limits.

In this country the general population of drivers and their skill levels consists of the following:

  • Average drivers 70%
  • Great drivers 25%
  • Death wish drivers 5%

With these thoughts, if you are that 25% of great drivers and you are comfortable with the idea of teaching your teen to drive, then go ahead and do a great job. On the other hand, if you have been driving them around for 15 years while speeding, talking on the phone, tailgating and rolling through stop signs, do you really think it’s a good idea for you to teach your child to drive?

Teens are involved in traffic crashes for specific reasons. I hear parents say that their teen has had a few minor fender benders and that’s part of learning to drive. What that really indicates, is that it is just a matter of time before they are seriously injured or hurt someone else.

Driving is a learned experience, but the truth is that the initial learning experience is critical in how young drivers develop into great drivers. Teaching your teen is one of the most critical parts of protecting your teens future, most decisions they make will not alter or end their life-think about it.

Download you teen driving contract here:
https://www.cdc.gov/parentsarethekey/agreement/index.html

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Car Crashes

40 people died in St. Pete car crashes in 2018, the deadliest year on record.

When you examine car crashes, you must understand one thing, they just don’t happen. Driving skills are becoming less important as we head to more and more ridiculous safety features. If you want to decrease traffic crashes, take the millions invested in driverless cars and put that money into creating better drivers.

Driving is a skill that is learned and must be practiced constantly behind the wheel. The issue regarding driver education is that if your taught to drive by a fool-now we have 2 fools on the road.

Driving must be taught by the great drivers of the world, which by the way is only 25% of the driving population. They didn’t become great by accident. They were taught by someone with great driving skills and they put that education into practice. When you’re driving, you must be aware of everything that is always going on around you, not just occasionally, but all the time. If I had to pick one thing that I could instill in new drivers, it would be to focus on the big picture of driving.

What are drivers doing that are behind you, alongside you and coming head on towards you? That’s what will make the difference in that decision that will save your life. Remember cars that are approaching you at 60 mph, are traveling at almost 90 feet per second. You are traveling at 90 feet per second, so you are closing at 180 feet per second. If you are talking on
the phone or worse texting, you will cross the center line or run the red light and it will happen in a split second.

            Drive like everyone else’s life depends on your actions, because the truth of the matter is that most head on collision are nothing more than not paying attention to your driving. It’s no different than if you took a gun and killed someone. You have no right and the reality is that it’s all avoidable if we increase our driving skills. Be that GREAT DRIVER!

Here’s a local news story for St. Pete that illustrates the need for great drivers:
https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/driving-tampa-bay-forward/40-people-die-in-st-pete-car-crashes-the-deadliest-year-on-record

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Tips for Drivers During a Solar Eclipse

The next total eclipse for North America will come on April 8, 2024.

On August 21, 2017, millions across the U.S. witnessed an awe-inspiring total solar eclipse. While the excitement surrounding them is understandable, and as a reminder, eclipse-seekers should map out their viewing location in advance, and to be safely off the roadways while gazing at the skies.

When will we see the next one? The next total eclipse for North America will come on April 8, 2024. That makes it seem as if eclipses are rare, when, in fact, they’re not. They happen about every 18 months as seen from somewhere in the world. However, for any given spot on Earth’s surface, total solar eclipses don’t happen very often.

ASI also offers the following tips for drivers during the 2024 solar eclipse:

  • Do not attempt to watch the eclipse while driving. Exit the roadway and park in a safe area away from traffic. The peak darkness phase will last just 2-3 minutes.
  • According to NASA, you should avoid looking directly at the sun without proper eye protection. The only safe way to look at the uneclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers.
  • Drive safely. Eagerness to view the event is not an acceptable reason to drive aggressively or while distracted.
  • Drive with your headlights on. Not only will you be more visible to other drivers, your forward vision will be improved.
  • Watch out for pedestrians. There may be people standing in or along the roadway watching the eclipse.
  • Be on the alert for distracted drivers.
  • Other drivers may attempt to watch the eclipse and drive at the same time.
  • Keep additional space between you and other vehicles.
  • Reduce your speed so you have more time to make an emergency maneuver, if needed
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